20 April 2017
The Immigration Department (ImmD) mounted a series of territory-wide enforcement operations, including an operation codenamed "Twilight" and joint operations with the Hong Kong Police Force and the Labour Department codenamed "Champion", on April 18 and 19 to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 14 illegal workers and six suspected employers were arrested.
During operation "Twilight" on April 18, ImmD Task Force officers raided 15 target locations including restaurants, an elderly care centre, market stalls, a massage parlour, a street stall and a residential flat under renovation. Seven illegal workers and four employers were arrested. The illegal workers comprised five men and two women aged 20 to 48. Meanwhile, four men, aged 41 to 70, were suspected of employing the illegal workers.
Furthermore, during operations "Champion" on April 18 and 19, enforcement officers raided 32 target locations in Central, Mong Kok, Yau Ma Tei and Tsim Sha Tsui including restaurants, retail shops, massage parlours and a residential flat under renovation. Seven illegal workers and two employers were arrested. The illegal workers comprised five men and two women aged 32 to 55. Meanwhile, one man and one woman, aged 40 and 55, were suspected of employing the illegal workers.
"Any person who contravenes a condition of stay in force in respect of him shall be guilty of an offence. Also, visitors are not allowed to take employment in Hong Kong, whether paid or unpaid, without the permission of the Director of Immigration. Offenders are liable to prosecution and upon conviction face a maximum fine of $50,000 and up to two years' imprisonment. Aiders and abettors are also liable to prosecution and penalties," an ImmD spokesman said.
The spokesman reiterated that it is a serious offence to employ people who are not lawfully employable. The maximum penalty is imprisonment for three years and a fine of $350,000. The High Court has laid down sentencing guidelines that the employer of an illegal worker should be given an immediate custodial sentence. According to the court sentencing, employers must take all practicable steps to determine whether a person is lawfully employable prior to employment. Apart from inspecting a prospective employee's identity card, the employer has the explicit duty to make enquiries regarding the person and ensure that the answers would not cast any reasonable doubt concerning the lawful employability of the person. The court will not accept failure to do so as a defence in proceedings. It is also an offence if an employer fails to inspect the job seeker's valid travel document if the job seeker does not have a Hong Kong permanent identity card. The maximum penalty for failing to inspect such a document is imprisonment for one year and a fine of $150,000.